Club America is relishing this weekend's clash, as it seeks to lord its superiority over longtime rival Chivas Guadalajara.
After dominating the league this season and winning the championship last time out, the Super Clasico in Estadio Azteca against Chivas should be, on paper, a chance for America to really rub in its superiority over a Guadalajara team that is shot of confidence and hovering just two points above last place in the Liga MX.
The 20-point difference between the clubs going into Mexico’s biggest game is the widest since the short, split season tournaments began in 1997.
Chivas owner Jorge Vergara came out on Thursday and said he is not afraid of America “even at Halloween,” but the provincial, all-Mexican club has not responded in a long time to challenges thrown at it and the owner’s comments perhaps betray a nervousness.
When the two come head to head, it will be the first time both have been level on 11 league titles. It shouldn’t really need re-emphasizing that the Mexico City club is by far and away the favorite to get first to that 12th title.
America rolling over Chivas on the way to the title would complete a year of humiliation for the Rojiblancos and would damage their prestige at the top of the game. After all, Chivas only have three titles since 1970 and need a lot of things to fall into place quickly if they are to win another anytime soon.
A more poignant and realistic goal at present for Chivas would be successfully negotiating a relegation struggle against the likes of Atlante and Atlas.
Considering the circumstances, the desperation to get one over on the other and the recent history between the two, expect fireworks.
The last time the two met in the league back in April, America capitalized on Chivas’ Sergio Perez getting an undeserved red card in the 36th minute, with Raul Jimenez netting twice in the second half.
Already upset by the game, Chivas’ anger increased as America players filed past the room where then Chivas coach Benjamin Galindo was giving his press conference blasting banda music, interrupting the manager.
“The good thing about soccer is that there is revenge,” said Galindo, who was visibly angry.
Then, in what was supposed to be a preseason tune-up in Las Vegas three months ago, a brawl involving multiple players, including Ruben Sambueza, Paul Aguilar, Giovanni Hernandez and Kristian Alvarez, broke out.
The animosity between the two sets of players was clear and could easily resurface.
But while some needle may level the playing field in favor of Chivas a little bit, there is no getting around America’s superiority.
Players like Luis “Quick” Mendoza, Jimenez and Miguel Layun are in the form of their lives, while Moises Munoz in goal, Aquivaldo Mosquera and Francisco “Maza” Rodriguez provide a solid platform.
The team is comfortable in its system under Miguel Herrera and has firepower to spare on the bench in case things aren’t working. A look over at Chivas’ bench on Saturday - likely full of young players plus Miguel Sabah – will tell its own story and puts both teams’ present reality into stark perspective.
Chivas coach Juan Carlos Ortega has been in his job less than three months and is the midst of altering the team’s formation. Results show that players are still getting used to it.
On Saturday, Chivas will need to produce the kind of answers that they haven’t been able to find all season. If not, it seems inevitable that Americanistas will be celebrating long into the night.